Modesty, frugality, adaptability and abstention from violence: these were the values that our family inculcated in us very strongly from very early on. Even though I could have grown, over time, much more arrogant than I earlier was, the other three virtues still have a significant presence within me. An eleven years old shirt remains my favorite and at one time, I was happy to have spent three or four winters without a proper jacket. On adapting to new circumstances, soon after passing SLC from a government school in a mountainous terrain, I was there in a premium +2 college in plains amid all those urban pupils from private schools. After two more years, I was in a medical school in one of the warmest place in Nepal. (And eventually, I spent one whole year in Bhairahawa without using a fan at night!!)
In the meantime, I was closely analyzing the difference between the social interactions in the villages and the cities and the observations were striking. People with one exchange of words are often the friends for life in villages, it is usual for neighbors to squabble but it is unimaginable they are indifferent towards one another’s affairs. But there in the city, you saw one another’s face for year after year as neighbors but still you were the strangers. You were happy, it mattered to nobody; you were sad, nobody noticed. They would meekly watch if some others quarreled noisily, they would call police if someone was found hanging; that was all and everybody was a stranger the next day.
Given this discrepancy between the two worlds between which I traveled so frequently, my sense of alienation from the crowd in the city was understandable. And in spite of that, I adapted to the new circumstances relatively well. With awareness of the fact that dad will no longer be able to cover my expenses after the class 12, any major breakthrough in my studies had to come during those two years. Moreover, bro's struggle to earn the livelihood was so uphill that moments of frank despair were fairly common. Having enrolled me in a private +2 in science despite the markedly added burden, both dad and bro expected me to avoid the kind of financial trouble that bro had to go through. Happily, these long-term considerations frequented my thought only occasionally and I never felt burdened by this while I sat to study.
Over the last part of the +2 years, my performance in class was more than satisfactory. The company of friends and teachers at the college was better than I would have ever demanded. Bro's earnings were slowly but steadily increasing and/or stabilizing. Except for a 3 day journey to police custody, the two year stay in Chitwan was largely uneventful.
But at this very time, the gnawing general sense of torment and despair evolved to be increasingly specific and personalized. The reason was, as could be expected, the intensifying armed conflict in the country. The devastating news of death and destruction led to a state of near-permanent gloom in me and I could not comprehend how lightly people took all these things and how unaffected by this they were. Over those years, even after I joined a medical school, I never acknowledged my birthdays but the ever present sense of gloom peaked on each birthday and the new year eve.
From that time onwards till the end of the insurgency in Nepal through the peaceful revolt of 2006, that sense of gloom remained, though waning in the last few years. The sense of insignificance in the society was, however, never diluted till the very moment of the revolt. What could be more painful than knowing that people were forced into injustice, tortured and brutally killed, yet being unable to do anything-- not even to speak-- about them?
Things were, fortunately, about to change as I had come some years away from my teenage and I had seen a much larger world beyond Nepal: Nepalis were not the only suffering people in the world. Though in a rather lackluster way, I began to realize that my being tormented and miserable little helped the world, and if at all, I might have been burdening the world with one more gloomy creature. On insignificance, there were so many insignificant people around me that, it was not that shameful or deplorable a thing as I used to assume earlier. Even if it were, worrying about insignificance was no way of getting around it: one had to act in whatever way possible.
As things evolve, I appear to be adapting quite well to the state of insignificance the way I did with the heat of Bhairahawa in summers. That is probably because my dad and mom taught me to live in most adverse of situations in life.
(This monologue is second of its kind, 'Twenty-eight years of solitude' being the first. I wrote this for my birthday that falls on 12th of Mangsir or 27th of November. Those curious enough and patient enough to make it to these lines are worthy of wishing me!! If you so wish, please do so here in the comment section.)